Ashley (Johnson) Leith was first put on a horse at the age of two and joined the United States Pony Club at the age of nine. It was in Pony Club that Ashley competed in her first horse trials. When she was seventeen, as a member of Amwell Valley Hounds Pony Club, she passed her ‘A’ rating. Pony Club is an international youth organization created to promote horsemanship. There are a series of ratings beginning with the ‘D’ level and progressing through the ‘A’ level. The ‘A’ rating is considered to be a professional level rating and less than one percent of Pony Clubbers each year in the U.S. obtain it. Ashley still enjoys teaching lessons and clinics for local pony clubs.
Ashley grew up in Pennington, New Jersey, during the school year and on the coast of Maine during the summer. In 1994 she graduated from Hopewell Valley Central High School. She was a member of the National Honor Society and Student Council, and she spent three years as a starter on the varsity girls basketball team. After high school she attended Rutgers University, where in 1998 she graduated with highest honors from the Rutgers College General Honors Program with majors in English and theater and a minor in art history. At Rutgers she was an eight-time Dean’s List recipient and was also elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society as a junior. In her senior year she was a national semi-finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University.
During Ashley’s formative years she also pursued other interests such as travel and language, fine and dimensional arts, wilderness camping, sailing, kayaking, and other athletic endeavors. When she was nineteen she spent a summer living and working in Paris and studying French at the Sorbonne. During her travels, Ashley has visited eighteen different countries and five different continents, including Africa and South America. Since her teenage years, running has also been one of Ashley’s primary hobbies. When she was twenty-three she completed the San Francisco Marathon and in July of 2008 she competed in the Philadelphia SheRox Triathlon. She is a graduate of the Baja, Mexico, sea kayaking course offered by the National Outdoor Leadership School and she worked for a summer in Whittier, Alaska, as a sea kayak guide. Ashley has also visited all 50 of the United States.
Since 2001 Ashley has been competing at the three star level and has been ranked consistently in the top 75 event riders in the United States, making her a long-listed athlete for the U.S. Equestrian Team. In 2002 she was chosen to participate in the USET Developing Riders program. In 2007 and 2008 on ESB Irish Doctrine and in 2011 and 2012 on Jet she qualified to compete at the four star level. She is a Founding Member on the Rider Advisory Board of the Professional Riders Organization as well as a PRO Junior Mentor. In 2009 she became certified as an ICP Level III instructor through the U.S. Eventing Association’s Instructor Certification Program.
In 2007 Ashley Johnson married Brian Leith in Ocala, Florida where they now own a house and 20 acre training facility.